Skip to main content

Full text of "Poland Russia and Great Britain 1941-1945"

See other formats

hostels, feeding centres, hospitals, convalescent homes, homes for dis-
abled, etc., for the use of 31,463 Polish citizens, including 15,305 Jews.
Total expenditure between August I, 1941, up to March i, 1943, was
one hundred and eleven million roubles.
The relief organisation created by the Polish Embassy was not, however,
allowed to work very smoothly for long. The first and main cause lay in the
governmental system of the Soviet Union, where there was no space for
any independent organisation, particularly one of a foreign origin. Any
foreigner moving at liberty throughout Russia was an active spy to the
Soviets, and each foreigner in a labour camp or prison a potential one,
For twenty years, the Soviet bureaucratic machine had been saturated
with this mania of espionage and sabotage, and any accident or deficiency
in output was at once attributed either to mysterious enemy forces,
governed from abroad, or else to counter-revolutionary activity within
the country. The powerful apparatus of the N.K.V.D., which held the
population in a grip of iron, regarded the Polish activities with suspicion
from the start, and as the Soviet Government began to change its policy
towards the Polish problem, so the pressure of the N.K.V.D. against the
Poles increased. Soon the Soviets found that these national organisa-
tions were clashing with the existing Russian regime. By March, the
local authorities had already begun to refuse the delegates information
regarding those deportees and prisoners who had not yet been released,
pointing out that this was a matter for the Polish Embassy to pursue
through the medium of the Narkomindel. The Embassy, however, was
only able to receive news of these people through those same delegates
and representatives who were connected with the centres for the deportees,
and could appeal to the Soviet Foreign Office only on the grounds of this
information. In the first eight months the Embassy had intervened for
thousands of its citizens, but the Narkomindel had ignored the appeals
in the majority of cases, replying that the prisoners in question were
either fc already free,' or e could not be traced/ or else stated the people
concerned were not Polish citizens. As early as March and April, 1942,
the Soviet authorities demanded that the Embassy should not intervene
on behalf of Polish citizens of Jewish, Ukrainian and White Ruthenian
In May, 1942, some of the delegates were accused by the N.K.V.D. of
conducting espionage on behalf of Great Britain and several of them had
to leave the U.S.S.R,* Towards the end of June, 1942, the Soviets pro-
ceeded to arrest the Embassy's delegates (though some of them possessed
diplomatic status) and a certain number of the more important members
among the local representatives—170 persons in all. These men were
arrested either in the streets or at night in their homes. By July 20, not
* Dallin, D. J., Russia and Post-war Europe, New Havtn31943 : ... a unique
occasion in history^ when one war ally accused another of widespread espionage in
favour of a third ally. (P. 202.)